Read short and deep

I love reading. Always have.

I love the way that words form pictures in my head, pictures that make everything else going on in the world around me make sense. They are pictures I draw in my mind with someone else’s words, in the way that I read them, and in the way that I think about them.

I love that you can draw such an emotional connection to what you read in a way that comes from inside you. Think about it: someone else wrote the words, and they aren’t reading them to you. You can’t hear the emotion in their voice, or see it in their expression. You have only the words to draw it from. The emotional connection comes from inside you, and your own personal truth, not from whoever wrote them.

The times in which this happens best, and in ways which can be pretty profound, are when you read short and deep.

Quotations are the best examples: Just enough words, but not too many. Just enough for you to connect, and connect deep. Thank you Bart, for sharing these with me:

“It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes, we have to do what’s required.”

—Winston Churchill

“Success is not a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”

—Reggie Leach

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

—Carl Buchner

“When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.”

—Abraham Maslow

As much as I love full, robust, consequentially written books, sometimes I get in these moods where the books I prefer are the shorter devotional types which give me just enough, but not too much. They make me think harder because they don’t do all the work for me; I have to be the one to work it.

I have to think, and think well.

I seem to be in that kind of mood right now, wanting to mostly read short and deep. These are the books that I’m keeping close by me on my desk these days:

The Daily Drucker: 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done
I just shared something from it with you yesterday.

The Big Moo: Seth Godin and his Group of 33 coach us to Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable. Like Panic at Inappropriate Times.

Abounding Grace, An Anthology of Wisdom. For me, the introductory essays M.Scott Peck has written to the chapters of selected quotes are the best parts.

Ready for Anything by David Allen of GTD fame: 52 productivity Principles for Work & Life. Read it quick, do it right away, and get it done, one thing at a time. Spurs for action.

The Women of Faith Daily Devotional: 365 Devotions on Hope, Prayer, Friendship, Wonder, Grace, Joy, Freedom, Humor, Vitality, Trust, Gratitude, and Peace.

Here’s the wonderful read which came from this last one today. I’ve had this book for 4 years now, and while I don’t read it every single day, I have often enough that I’ve read each entry two or three times, yet I still don’t tire of them. They are short and deep.

Praying at Heaven’s Gate

“David Livingstone is considered one of history’s greatest explorers. Born in Scotland in 1813, he was one of five children in a poor family that resided in two small rooms. His parents were poor in earthly wealth but rich in spirit, and they inspired their son to devote his life to serving God and his fellow man. Livingstone began working in the cotton mills at age ten and continued there for many years, eventually earning enough money to put himself through college, where he studied medicine and theology.

He spent most of his adult life exploring Africa, bringing modern medicine and God’s Word to its remotest regions. He was the first person to cross the continent from east to west and the first white man to see Victoria Falls. He planted missions, spread the gospel, and endured incredible hardships. In doing so, it is said that he added a million square miles to what was then considered the known world—and hundreds, maybe thousands, of souls to the heavenly rolls.

He was showered with accolades for his work. But the thing about David Livingstone’s life that most touches my heart is the way he died. Early on the morning of May 1, 1873, he was found dead, kneeling beside his bed. While doing God’s will, praying alone in a remote African hut, he was lifted up by God’s own hand.”

—Barbara Johnson

The thing with reading short and deep is that it doesn’t take long. You can get your fix and get inspired, and you are still reading. Reading, thinking, learning and growing.

I know we read a lot in this community of ours. Do you have any favorite reads like this that you consider short and deep? I find that they are not that easy to find, and I’d love to hear your recommendations if you have them.


  1. says

    Aloha Rosa,
    Roy Williams’ Wizard of Ads’ series is short and deep. From advertising to life, Williams writing style is captivating and thought provoking. I connected with his books so much that I have journaled in the margins for five years. It is interesting to see, first how his story affects me and second, the different notes I’ve written over the years on the same story.
    Harry Beckwith also has a trilogy of short and deep books on marketing and selling that are kind of neat.
    Short and deep was how I attempted to write on the Internet before blogs. I called it Internet Style. Ironically, when I told someone my ambitions for writing a book – Internet Style – they turned me onto Roy Williams.
    IMO, Peter Drucker is the absolute master of short and deep. The economy of his words is mind boggling. The meaning is mind enhancing.
    This is a good post Rosa. I love Maslow’s quote above!

  2. says

    Mahalo Dave, you are right about Roy William’s books, and I need to pull them back from the shelf and onto my desktop again. I have one of Beckwith’s: What Clients’ Love, and I remember how much inspiration it gave me when I first started my own business.
    As for the master: In today’s installment of The Daily Drucker he takes on government, and it is uncanny how timely it is in my consciousness. One of the biggest issues our Hawai‘i State legislature is facing this session is dealing with overflowing coffers (a $600 million budget surplus for our tiny state!) —appalling. A mutiny is brewing, and rightfully so.
    After I posted this, I thought about blogs too: Short and deep is why reading them is so attractive to us, especially because the feedback loop is so quick when you get into the comments. And the subjects multiply in the comments. More emotion, more thought, tumbling, cascading, pooling” yum.
    And you bring up a whole ‘nother subject: Writing short and deep!
    Thanks Dave! You got me going now” as you usually do.

  3. says

    If you have a taste for reading short and deep and you don’t mind looking past the fad books to find a classic then go get “Ready, Fire, Aim – Avoiding Management by Impulse” by Harry Levinson. It was published in 1986 (ISBN 0-916516-06-7).
    From the intro: “Why do your subordinates do the things they do? Or your manager, for that matter! Do you ever wish you could look inside their heads to see what makes them tick? I can’t offer you that but I can show you a practical way to think about what motivates some of the apparently nonsensical things that people do.”
    He goes on to provide more practical people management wisdom page for page, than anyone I’ve found, all in short and deep posts.
    When you’ve looked through that let me know what you think and I’ll share some great “short and deep” classic reads in advertising and leadership.
    BTW thanks for all the support and kind words in your review of me and my book.

  4. says

    Thank you Laurence! I will definitely check it out.
    And you are very welcome. Every page in your wonderful book is short and deep! You offer up a very tasty workplace meal to nourish all who read.

  5. says

    Rosa, good suggestions. I’ll have to do a full posting to explore this more. I generally carry a magazine or two in my backpack along with the book or two I am working through to read on the train. Runner’s World, FASTCompany, and Worthwhile are the magazine sources. The books vary. I just finished a re-read of Buckingham’s One Thing You Need to Know and have been working through Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I do have Drucker’s Daily Read but the cover doesn’t get cracked as often as it should. I also have several poetry books that I crack for those moments when.

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